Col de la Croix Fry via Col de Plan Bois

Col de la Croix Fry Col de Plan Bois Col de la Croix Fry Col de Merdassier Col de la Croix Fry

Now this is an amazing route!

croix fry

A couple of kilometres from Thones is a turn up a very steep, quiet road to the little-known Col de Plan Bois (not in my cycling bible). Surrounded by high Alps, the views are amazing. It averages 10% for about 6 kilometres (4 miles) – and is extremely steep in stretches.

Col de Plan Bois

I was riding my hybrid bike in case of ice. And was soon glad I did. At the top, the other side was under a foot of snow. So I jogged for about a kilometre downhill until finding a cleared road.

A hair-raising decent and then the route joins the classic way up Col de la Croix Fry below Manigod.

Col de la Croix Fry was the last climb in the gigantic 2004 Tour stage 17 won by Armstong by less than a second over Kloden

This part of the route had a few cars as there is a ski station at the top – but just a superb climb. At the very top is quick 10 minute detour to the Col de Merdassier.

Enlarge the middle thumbnail photo above. On the top of the sign is a borne velodateur. Basically, you can stamp a time card (from the tourist office well below in Thones) when you reach the top – after stamping it at the bottom – to record you time and route completion.

I thought the below photo was pretty clever given that I was on my own!

croix fry cycling

I have a new video cam. No idea yet how to properly/interestingly use it – but here is a small clip.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. I sit here watching it snow and looking at your photos of clear sunny skies and dry roads in the mountains. You are making winter very hard on me!

  2. Will,

    Great scouting… you should really compile a book or something. Well, a blogs better..
    Armstrong won stage 17 with an average speed of 20pmh. That is INSANE…

  3. Ron,

    I saw that stage in 2004 on Col de la Forclaz (2nd last climb). It was a serious heat wave and the suffering was amazing. It took absolutely ages for everyone to pass with many getting a “helping hand” from the fans.

    Oh and roughly I have learned that the pros climb 2x my speed – :-))

  4. Video is very cool. Just did this climb last week while on vacation and the views on the way up are beautiful – if you can lift your head up long enough to enjoy them!

  5. je connais bien cette région et c’est joli. Par le col de Plan Bois c’est effectivement autre chose car il est dure. en plus, en VTT… par contre, le col du merdassier, c’est juste pour ajouter une ligne à ta collection ?

    que penses-tu de la “future” victoire de Contador et de son attitude lors de l’incident de Schleck ?

  6. Moi, J’aime les deux, Andy et Alberto. On n’a pas besoin de polemique chaque année 😉

    Oui, je suis d’accord. Plan-Bois n’est pas facile.

  7. Pingback: The Best Cycling Climbs from Lake Annecy

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